‘But min­istry changes tune to threats early in the year’

Observer on Saturday - - News -

The back­track­ing of the min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion is now no longer in sync with the as­ser­tion it made early this year when they threat­ened prin­ci­pals that they will not be pay­ing Free Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion (FPE) mon­eys to schools that did not pro­vide Per­sonal Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­bers (PINS) for pupils.

The dec­la­ra­tion and in­tent of the min­istry was made by Act­ing Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, Si­bongile Mt­shali who said in or­der to avoid au­dit queries, they had to pay against a PIN, not a name of a pupil. Mt­shali said names could be sim­i­lar and this would of­ten re­sult in mis­takes when pay­ments were made. The num­bers de­clared were that as a coun­try there were about 650 pri­mary schools and the only re­gion that was said to have ev­ery­thing in or­der was Hho­hho. It was stated that there were about 301 schools in the Lubombo, Shis­el­weni and Manzini re­gions that needed to at­tend to pupils’ Per­sonal Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­bers (PINs) be­fore gov­ern­ment re­leases the FPE grant. The rea­sons were that th­ese chil­dren do not have birth cer­tifi­cates and need to reg­is­ter be­fore a PIN is is­sued. Ma­gag­ula, dur­ing the press con­fer­ence, said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion was di­rected to all stake­hold­ers. He added that his min­istry and that of home af­fairs were work­ing around the clock to en­sure that all pupils ac­cess Per­sonal Iden­tity Num­bers (PIN) as per the re­quire­ments of gov­ern­ment. “The two min­istries con­stantly en­gage par­ents and guardians to work timely strate­gies to ac­cess PIN num­bers,” said Ma­gag­ula.

The min­istry fur­ther ac­knowl­edged that it had come to their at­ten­tion that it was schools with dis­ad­van­taged pupils that had not sub­mit­ted their PINs.

Ma­gag­ula high­lighted that the pupils were sub­jected to lack of ac­cess to school books and pupils were not given the op­por­tu­nity to learn as they are chased out of school.

Ma­gag­ula said is­sues of monies for schools were be­ing sorted out and the three re­gions al­ready had ac­cess to their funds with the ex­cep­tion of a few in the Shis­el­weni re­gion.

The min­is­ter said the trea­sury de­part­ment was work­ing around the clock for all schools to re­ceive their funds when the schools open.

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